Advent will look different this year. Start planning early. The NC Conference Media Center offers planning resources, studies, devotionals, and more to help create a meaningful Advent season for 2020.
Amplify, the United Methodist video streaming service, hosted a free webinar series that has been archived and can now be watched for free. The Promise of Advent was hosted by Rev. Adam Hamilton and a diverse group of church leaders. It includes the following sessions:
- Worship, Music, and Ritual: Reimagining Advent Church Services
- How Will Our Children Cope? Family Resources for Celebrating Christmas
- Preaching in Grief: Bring Hope to this Year of Loss and Insecurity
- Incarnation: Be Inspired by the Names of Christ
The final session of the webinar series introduces participants to Rev. Hamilton’s new Advent study, Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas. We have copies available at the Media Center, so you can go ahead and request to borrow it now. Cokesbury is also offering a Virtual Advent Kit based on this study that includes the Incarnation e-book and the download bundle containing everything you need to plan your virtual Advent study this year.
Join Anne Borsage for a webinar on Planning for Advent & Christmas During COVID-19 on October 21st at 11:00am. Anne will discuss lots of ideas for Bible studies, “car activities,” adult & children’s activities, and more. This webinar from United Methodist publisher Market Square Books costs $25 and earns CEU credit.
Market Square Books is offering another Advent webinar with Pastor Charles Maynard on Preaching for Advent & Christmas – Stories of Light. Join him on October 22nd at 11:00am. This webinar also costs $25 and earns CEU credit.
Watch this recorded webinar from Fresh Expressions about Church in Winter: Preparing for Cold Weather and COVID. It includes best practices from a 30-year-old expression of church that always meets in the snow, how to inspire the creativity of your congregation to unlock new ideas, and unexpected opportunities to engage your surrounding community during winter.
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership hosted a podcast on Virtual Advent featuring Professor of Worship Anna Petrin. She shares ideas for bringing Advent from the sanctuary to the home and allowing its themes of longing and hope to speak to our current reality.
Cokesbury has posted an Advent study comparison chart to help you decide what Advent study to use with your church or small group this year. We have even more Advent studies available at the Media Center, so keep reading to find out about additional options.
Be sure to read this article from Discipleship Ministries, Advent and Christmas Music in the Midst of COVID-19. It provides lots of guidance and resources for liturgy and music for online worship.
Discipleship Ministries is also offering a free Advent series, Company’s Coming, that can be downloaded and used with your church.
The General Commission on Religion and Race is offering an Advent program, Journey from Darkness to Light: A 5-Week Worship and Children’s Resource for Advent and Christmas. It includes everything you need to celebrate the Advent season in a deep, meaningful, and inclusive way–from lectionary texts, to sermon starters, to suggested hymns and songs, to children’s messages and hands-on, age-appropriate activities.
Advent Studies for Adults
New for 2020
New! Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas
by Adam Hamilton
Learn the meaning behind the names of Christ and the difference He makes in our lives this Christmas. In the face of uncertainty and conflict, Christians reclaim the Christ child who brings us together, heals our hearts, and calls us to bring light into the darkness. This study includes a DVD, Leader Guide, Book, Youth Study Book, and Children’s Leader Guide. Watch a promo video and the first session.
New! Making Room: Sharing the Love of Christmas
by Ed Robb
Learn how to make room in your heart for God and neighbor this Christmas. The story of Christ’s birth encourages us to widen our borders and increase our sense of community—and make room for others. This study includes a book and a leader guide. Watch a promo video.
New! Hope: An Advent Journey
by Olu Brown
Reclaim Advent as something already here, not a season waiting to arrive. Our hope is not based on external situations, but eternal promises. This Advent season can be the best ever if you dare to embrace the hope of Jesus right now, knowing that God’s grace and love are present to carry you through the most challenging times in your life. This study only uses a book.
More Advent Studies for Adults
Almost Christmas: A Wesleyan Advent Experience by Magrey R. DeVega, Ingrid McIntyre, April Casperson, Matt Rawle. In John Wesley’s famous sermon, “The Almost Christian,” he encouraged people to follow Christ wholeheartedly. Pastor deVega leads a group of authors in exploring how we can make the same commitment to Christ during Advent, and connect our Wesleyan heritage with the traditional Advent themes of Love, Hope, Joy, and Peace.
From Heaven to Earth: Christmas For New Believers, Old Believers, and Nonbelievers by Wil Cantrell & Paul Seay. Pastors Cantrell and Seay provide an engaging guide in which readers will experience an in-depth look into what we know about the world of Mary and Joseph from the Biblical record and other historical documents as well as a challenge to consider the difference Jesus’ birth makes for our lives today.
Light of the World: A Beginner’s Guide to Advent by Amy-Jill Levine. Author, professor, and biblical scholar Levine shows how the Gospel narratives connect to the Old Testament; highlights the role of women in first-century Jewish culture; and emphasizes the importance of Mary’s visitation, the census, the stable, the star of Bethlehem, and the flight to Egypt.
Home for Christmas: Tales of Hope and Second Chances by Justin Coleman. NC Conference Pastor Coleman shares the real-life stories of formerly incarcerated men and women as they find work and opportunity through Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. As we hear about their struggles, we recognize the Advent themes of hope, love, and peace in their lives.
The Gift of the Nutcracker by Matt Rawle. Pastor Rawle uses the iconic tale of the Nutcracker to help us understand God’s greatest gift of the Christ child and of the kingdom Christ came to build.
Faithful: Christmas Through the Eyes of Joseph by Adam Hamilton. Join Pastor Hamilton as he examines Christmas through the eyes of Joseph and learn to accept and glorify God’s will even when our situation makes it difficult to do so.
Complete List of Advent Studies
We have 31 DVD-based studies and additional Christmas movies listed in our Advent and Christmas DVDs for Adults pathfinder. We also have 26 book-based studies plus devotionals, program ideas, and additional books listed in our Advent and Christmas Books for Adults pathfinders.
Books for Advent 2020
Triptych by Steve Hickle and Andy Morris. Co-authored by the NC Conference’s own Rev. Steve Hickle, Triptych is a daily guide through Advent and Epiphany. Borrowing the name of an art piece of three hinged panels, called a Triptych, each day offers a Triptych of scripture, reflection, and prayer using selections from the daily readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (Year B). Read more on our website.
Blue Christmas: Devotions of Light in a Season of Darkness by Todd Outcalt. Blue Christmas reminds us that all of our Christmases, even the darkest ones, can be filled with honesty and hope if we are first willing to sit in silence and bring our deepest fears to God. The book includes daily devotions, additional prayers, a “Blue Christmas” worship service, and reflection questions. An eCourse based on this book and taught by the author will begin 11/29.
New! Imagining a New World: An Advent Devotional by Terri Hord Owens. Pause from the whirlwind of the holidays to imagine God’s vision for a new world in Christ’s coming. Inspired by the “peaceable kingdom” scripture from Isaiah 11, these daily, five-minute devotions include scripture, reflections, and a prayer.
New! Unto Us a Child is Born: Isaiah, Advent, and Our Jewish Neighbors by Tyler D. Mayfield. Integrating biblical scholarship with pastoral concern, Mayfield invites readers to view Isaiah through two lenses. He demonstrates using near vision to see how the Christian liturgical season of Advent shapes readings of Isaiah and using far vision to clarify our relationship to Jews and Judaism—showing along the way how near vision and far vision are both required to read Isaiah clearly and responsibly.
Mary Had a Baby: An Advent Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals by Cheryl Kirk-Duggan & Marilyn E. Thornton. Each of the four sessions of Mary Had a Baby corresponds with the four weeks of Advent and features a Christmas Spiritual. You’ll listen to the music, examine related Scripture, and discuss biblical, historical, and contextual themes in a fun and interactive setting.
The Living Nativity: Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis by Larry J. Peacock. This book introduces readers to Saint Francis and explores how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” Prayer poems for each day of the season lead readers to deepen their spiritual journey, and the book provides a guided pattern for individuals and small groups to share reflections and experience activities that open their hearts to the Christ child.
All Earth is Waiting: Good News for God’s Creation at Advent by Katie Z. Dawson. Explore the familiar Advent themes of hope, preparation, joy, and peace with the heavens and earth in mind and consider how all creation longs for the coming of Christ, taking seriously the notion that the good news of Christ is good news for all the world. Designed for individual or small-group use, each chapter of this Bible study offers questions for reflection and a brief prayer as well as Advent candle lighting liturgies, a call to worship, a prayer of confession, and hymn suggestions.
Complete List of Advent Books
View our complete list of book-based Advent studies, devotionals, activity books, liturgies, prayers, and more in our Advent and Christmas Books for Adults pathfinder.
Advent for Youth and Children
Many of our Advent studies for adults also offer separate guides to use these studies with youth and children. Here are some additional resources to help families celebrate the Advent season this year.
Fathom: The Coming of Jesus, The Birth of a Savior by Charlie Baber. This bible study for youth, written by NC Conference Pastor Baber, is a journey through some of the key Old Testament scriptures that shape our beliefs about the specific events leading to the birth of Jesus. A leader’s guide is also available.
New! Faithful Families for Advent and Christmas: 100 Ways to Make the Season Sacred by Traci Smith. In this new book of faith practices for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, and anyone who cares about kids will find 100 easy, fun, and meaningful ideas for bringing the sacred back into the season.
Advent A to Z: Prayerful and Playful Preparations for Families by Sharon Harding and John Indermark. Beginning December 1 and running through December 26, each day will explore an Advent-related word that begins with a successive letter in the alphabet. This is followed by suggestions for simple, easy-to-prepare, and complete activities (discussion starters, games, crafts, meditations, journaling, outreach project, devotions).
God Rest Ye Grumpy Scroogeymen: New Traditions for Comfort and Joy at Christmas by Laura Jensen Walker and Michael K. Walker. Full of fun and practical how-to-tips, this book will help your family remember, create and experience memory-making traditions at Christmas time.
Christmas Extras: Faith-Filled Ideas for Celebrating Christmas. Share an Advent/Christmas season that’s bursting with lots of praise, devotions, Bible stories, snacks, crafts, and experiences that jingle with joy for Jesus’ birth. Each brief activity is rooted in faith and wrapped in fun, revealing more and more about God’s powerful love and grace for all of us.
Complete List of Youth & Children’s Resources
View the Advent and Christmas Resources for Youth pathfinder to see a complete list of our Advent studies and program resources for youth.
View the Advent and Christmas Resources for Children pathfinder to view a complete list of our Advent studies, family-friendly movies, picture books, and program resources for children.
Church Publishing of The Episcopal Church has made the following ebooks available for free until January 6, 2021.
- Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Activity Pack
- The Womb of Advent
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.